Sunday, 10 July 2016

Almost to Braunston July 2016

Our Summer Cruise to London 2016

On the North Oxford Canal  July 2016

Day 22 Along the N.Oxford, mooring above Br.68 - 6.5 miles
Day 23 Almost to Braunston, mooring in the country - 7 miles and 3 locks

We continue our leisurely chug southwards. Today aiming for Rugby and Tesco's.
We moored with others on good shuttering after Clifton Cruisers by the golf course.
Next day, we arrived at Hillmorton and sorted out the water, toilet etc for long weekend moored up in the country.
Happily, moored in a good spot in deep, open water with good TV and WiFi. It's the Tour de France in the Pyrenees this weekend, plus Silverstone and Andy in the final at Wimbledon!

Heading into the 204yds (186m) Newbold Tunnel. This is the replacement tunnel put in during the improvements in 1834. It has 2-way working

Looking into the tunnel

Looking back - showing both towpaths (only one of which is operational)

Passing 'Empress' - an original 1898 FMC Steamer and always a working boat.
This more recent signage is of the spray paint technique.

When we arrived at the Hillmorton Locks, despite being paired (i.e. 2 narrow locks side by side) to speed up travel in the improvements of 1840), as one lock was in repair, only one of each pair was operational. Result - a queue!
This photo shows the replacement heel pin on the bottom of the top gate of Lock No.4

The strike plate on the cill
Lifting the gate back into position

All held by a single hook and eye!

Rather different paddle gear

Chris take the boat into the top lock, No.7.
See the robust stone steps and the paired lock beyond.
These locks are not that deep at 6'3" (1.90m)

We passes Nick and his fine 1936 Town Class large Woolwich

This photo tries to show the saplings recently cut back and the stone slab edging.
The angle of these slabs means it is not possible to moor against them without banging around. Boaters seek out the steel shuttering edges

An example of the saplings and shrubbery over taking the towpath edges - almost river like!

We moored outside Braunston, in the country. The opposite fields have the Medieval ridge and furrows, produced by simple ploughing to heap the soil up to form the ridge.
Their existence here shows this land has not been ploughed by modern machinery

This is the classic view arriving at Braunston, with the All Saints Church high on the hill.
As I write this, I can hear the Sunday morning church bells.

Yesterday, I walked into the village (25 minutes). All Saints Church stands proudly on elevated land, sacred from ancient days and the site of a Norman church and subsequent 14thC improvements - today's church is from around 1850. As Braunston grew in size as a result of the canal trade. It is know as the Cathedral of the Canals!

This effigy is memory of William, Fourth Baron Ros who died on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 1352

A windmill also stands on the hill - now without sails and a home

An interesting feature on show
There was a local wedding at the church. This is a 1910 gentleman's carriage waiting the Happy Couple!

Friday, 8 July 2016

South on the North Oxford Canal July 2016

Our Summer Cruise to London 2016

Onto the North Oxford Canal July 2016

Day 20 To just above Marston Junction - 9 miles and 5 locks
Day 21 Onto the North Oxford Canal, moored for a bbq after Br.34 - 11 miles and 1 lock

Up early to the Atherstone Launderette to get towels and sheets washed, even more shopping in Aldi and then ready to set off again.

[For anyone travelling the Coventry Canal, I will recommend a stop in Atherstone, below Lock 5. Good TV and WiFi/mobile coverage, shopping and real ale pubs!]

We joined a short queue of boats going up the Atherstone flight though stopped after Lock No.5 to take on a full tank of water. Having eased into the services to sort the rubbish and toilet, it was onwards - southwards on the Coventry Canal.
Always interesting, the winding route passes echoes of it's industrial past with old wharves and derelict colliery arms. Partly rural and then through Nuneaton!

Chris takes the boat up the locks in 'summer' mode

Passed this rather forlorn working boat - still with it's interlocking blue covers made of fibreglass - is it a River Class British Waterways boat from 1959?

A feature of the Coventry Canal is the long surplus water run-offs

The classic BW Yard at Hartshill, looking less cared for!

Remaining evidence of colliery wharves - here with the holes for a wooden loading deck

More industrial heritage - this bridge is No.28A, the 'A' meaning an addition after the canal was built. The bridge carries a rail track to Hartshill Quarry which seems to have been still going in the 60's, although I'm not sure when it closed.

Another legacy of times past - a full head of telephones wire brackets. The telephone wires followed the canal as an easy route/access from town to town.

This quarry bridge shows elaborate metal cross struts

Did Dr.Who visit Nuneaton?

The reedy entrance to the long abandoned Griff Arm to Bermuda. Opened in 1787 by Sir Richard Newdigate, it brought out local coal, bricks and stone to the main canal.

Having had a quiet mooring, the next day we passed the understated entrance to the rural Ashby Canal - we've not done this yet? Next year perhaps?

Passing the curiously shambolic Charity Wharf - spot the Batman and Robin mannequin!

Contrasted with a superb rear garden

On this section there was evidence of canal bank erosion - and some re-instatement

Solid brick bridge, No.13, is testament to James Brindley's 1769 canal building. In fact, his robust structures drained the available monies as the canal got to Atherstone - and he was eventually sacked as the engineer!

Another abandoned arm - this one went to Newdigate Colliery Basin, nr Bedworth.
Newdigate Colliery first produced coal in 1901 and through in 1940 employed 1360 miners producing 500,000 tons of coal. This was transported both by canal and rail.

With thanks to Peter Lee

The Captain takes the helm through Hawkesbury Junction, where we turn onto the North Oxford Canal at a notorious U-bend!
See the Engine House in the background - built in 1821 with a Newcomen steam engine, pumping water out of the local mines to supply the canal

A study in concentration!

Success! Outside the Greyhound Pub, watched by sightseers (and fellow boaters!)
This junction was completed in 1803, after a lengthy dispute between the proprieters of the Coventry and Oxford Canals. The levels between the two canals ended in a 7 inch fall from the Oxford, so we go through a stop lock!
This Stop Lock is called Sutton Stop by the old boaters after a family of lock keepers for many years in the 19thC.

This derelict Beetle is still here - you would have thought there would be money on selling it on to an enthusiast?

The towpath crosses the entrance to the Wyken Arm.
This has a significance for us as it was the first destination in this boat in March 2003 to wind (turn) the boat having just bought it!

Looking back through the Arm entrance

My creative streak - I'll call this - 'Pillars of Modernity'
Under the M42, with the electric gantry just showing for the West Coast Line

Back to the 1830's when the North Oxford was 'modernised' - here one of Brindley's contour loops goes off under the Horesley Iron Works Bridge.
We go straight ahead, through a cutting

Monday, 4 July 2016

Coventry Canal Confusion? June 2016

Our Summer Cruise to London 2016

To Atherstone in Warwickshire June/July 2016

Day 15 An extra day at Fradley - as it rained and rained!!
Day 16 To Frazeley Junction - 11 miles
Day 17 Onto Atherstone - 10 miles and 8 locks
Day 18 Moored in the pound above Lock 6
Day 19 As above! Good TV and Wifi.

With weather improved, we set off to Fazely Junction, chugging away.
This is a long pound with no locks - though of much of interest.
The initial section was built by the Grand Junction Canal (now the Trent and Mersey) in clear determination to link towards the coalfields of Bedworth and Birmingham.
Although we now call this the Coventry Canal, it was built by three different canal companies!

Now on the Grand Junction Canal Co. section of the Coventry Canal - built in 1789 as a link route. It was later bought by the Coventry Canal Co. This is why the bridges are similar to those on the Trent & Mersey Canal 

Rural and overgrown

Passing the Streethay Wharf - there was plenty of heavy engineering in progress

Passing under the new Network Rail Bridge 82A at Huddlesford Junction. This line was improved to a 4 - track route which meant new or additional bridge construction.
It carries the West Coast Main Line from Euston to Stafford, Crewe and the Glasgow 

Looking up the derelict Wyrley and Essington Canal (the Lichfield section)

We are on our way towards Coventry.

This carved stone shows the joining of the Coventry Canal to the section built by the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal (1789), here in Whittington

The bridges change to being 'named' in keeping with the B'ham and Fazeley Canal

A stock of robust timbers to drop into a groove at the bridge as a stop plank - either in an emergency breach, or for a planned draining of the pound for maintenance work

No, not a jail! This is where the stop planks used to be kept

A newish concrete edge - entering an embankment section

This is Peel Wharf - the left side are the Canal and River Trust Regional Offices.
We moored for the night just opposite on good moorings (poor TV signal though!)

Next morning, heading to the Junction - some new waterside housing, with large glass panels as a safety feature (and to keep the ducks/geese out?)

The grand Canal Company House at the Junction, with good line of sight along the canal and opposite the route towards Birmingham

The route on the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal to Birmingham

Chris steers out of Glascote Bottom Lock, with a delightful old lock keeper's house

This type of rusty yet solid steel shuttering tells me this is an area of subsidence - from the coal mining activity that took place around here. Now a country park.

A field of poppies - a timely reminder !

On this route, we are never very far away from the main railway line. Here an express chases past

Now on the Coventry Canal 'proper' - this is a rather ornate overflow. The Coventry has no reservoir feeders and relies on water from adjoining streams and run-offs, plus some from the Oxford Canal. Hence is can be susceptible to rainfall and needs longer overflows to compensate. As can be seen, the canal is up to the maximum weir height

Chris approaches the bottom lock at Atherstone - just before the rain came!

Locking up

This photo shows our 'locking up' technique - putting the boat on the up running block and in tickover. This holds the boat reasonably steady to allow the lock to be filled

Chris steers the pound - I walk up to get the next lock ready.
(Jackets on as it's now raining)

The crew happy in their work!

The absence of the walk board meant a step across the half open bottom gates!
I manage this OK - though how do older folk manage?